Paratene Te Manu (Sonny) Wellington receives Civic Honour
Media Release 22 August 2014
Paratene Te Manu (Sonny) Wellington delighted to receive 2014 Civic Honour
Ngātiwai elder Paratene Te Manu (Sonny) Wellington says he is delighted and honoured to be one of five recipients of the Whangarei District Council’s 2014 Civic Honours this week.
“It is just terrific, you don’t go through life expecting something like this, so it means a lot to me,” Mr Wellington says.
“It is a reflection of our community in Ngunguru and Tutukaka and I feel honoured to be recognised in this way. The one thing I would say is that I have always tried to integrate all races around me into our community because the community is made up of the sum of all its parts, not just one,” he says.
He says he felt immensely proud to be able to acknowledge his Ngātiwai roots when awarded his medal by the Mayor Sheryl Mai at the ceremony which took place in the Council Chambers on Tuesday (19th August).
“I mentioned in my speech just how much it meant to me to be part of Ngātiwai and how much I was really proud to be Ngātiwai.”
His citation from the Whangarei District Council acknowledged his long-standing contribution to the Ngunguru and Tutukaka communities.
“Born and raised in Tutukaka, Sonny is a descendant of the famous Maori leader, Paratene Te Manu. After leaving school he worked in the Whangarei District for some years before leaving Whangarei to work at Kinleith for 15 years. On his return, Sonny became closely involved with his community and is now a Kaumatua respected by Maori and Pakeha, alike, for his remarkable ability to bridge the cultural divide,” it says.
“Sonny’s reach into his community is broad, touching many generations, interest groups and walks of life. He works tirelessly for the good of the community, enriching it with his knowledge of Maori traditions and history.
“He is highly respected for his whakapapa and personal mana. He embodies the principles of kotahitanga, encouraging Maori and non-Maori, young and old, to use the marae for community endeavours. He has made a significant contribution to the Ngunguru Sports and Recreation Society, representing the Maori viewpoint and providing an invaluable link between different sectors of the community.
He has served as a chaplain for the Whangarei / Tutukaka St John’s Ambulance, and as Kaumatua for the Community Church, Coastguard Tutukaka, the Ngatiwai
Trust Board, the local fire brigade, and for Dive! Tutukaka at the sinking of the Navy ship, the Waikato.
Sonny contributes to the Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society on an ‘as required’ basis, and co-ordinates the Kia ora Ngatiwai line dancing group with his wife, Rose.
There are few in Ngunguru and Tutukaka who haven’t somehow benefitted from Sonny’s good will, hard work, wisdom and spiritual contribution. He is universally described as a man of humility, integrity, commitment and community spirit.”